IT Secretary Saugat Biswas has been appointed as the first Divisional Commissioner there.


New Delhi: In a landmark decision, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik has declared Ladakh as a separate division comprising two districts —Leh and Ladakh — with its headquarters in Leh. The state would henceforth comprise three divisions —Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Until now, Ladakh was a part of the Kashmir division.

The government has also approved creation of the posts of Divisional Commissioner and Inspector General of Police for the new division. 2006-batch IAS officer Saugat Biswas has been appointed as the first Divisional Commissioner of Ladakh. Biswas, who is presently holding the charge of Secretary of Information Technology at the Centre, shall remain headquartered at Leh for three weeks and in the state capital for one week in a month.

A wave of joy has swept through the region after the news broke on Saturday. People of Leh and Ladakh are in a celebratory mood as their biggest long-pending demand has finally been fulfilled. The announcement has come closely after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the region and gifting it with many developmental projects, besides inaugurating University of Ladakh there.

The development has, however, created much heartburn in the Valley with the leaders of state level political parties crying hoarse over the decision. Former Chief Minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti has slammed the Governor for carrying on what she called as the “agenda of BJP”.

Claiming that Malik’s intentions were not good by doing a “pick and choose” job while fulfilling the aspirations of the people, she said that he has ignored the similar demands from Rajouri and Poonch districts as a separate Pir Panjal division and from Doda, Kishtiwar and Bhaderwah as a separate Chenab Valley division.

In a sharp reaction to the decision, the influential head of Islamia School in Kargil has said that they will protest against the decision as already Governor was only listening to the people of Leh and not of Kargil. People of Kargil have been demanding divisional headquarters at Kargil and they also demanded the Central University at Kargil which was rejected by Governor and he made it at Leh.

Former Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah reacted to this decision in a tweet saying that if voted to power, his government would grant separate divisions to Chenab Valley and Pir Panjal regions too.

According to the order issued by the Governor’s administration creating Ladakh division, a committee headed by Principal Secretary of Planning, Development and Monitoring will be constituted to identify the posts of divisional level heads of various departments that may be required for the new division, particularly their staffing pattern, role and responsibilities and proposed location of these offices.

In his order, Malik has said that the decision will go a long way “in fulfilling the governance and development aspirations of the people of Ladakh region.” The issue has been discussed at various fora and there has been a persistent demand for the creation of a division for Ladakh from many organizations including the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils (LAHDC) of Leh and Kargil, he added.

Soon after taking over as Governor, Malik had assured the people of Ladakh that he would give them a separate division so that the pace of development and equitable all-round growth could happen in this region also.

(With inputs from Srinagar)


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